From clothing to music, food to furniture, you can buy just about everything online these days; even glass dining tables and the proverbial kitchen sink. E-commerce sites are big business, enabling companies to showcase more products than ever whilst streamlining their customers’ shopping experience. Competition for a consumer’s attention is fierce; it is important for companies to ensure they get it right, converting a wealth of web ‘hits’ into valuable sales.
Creating the perfect marketing tool
These days, e-commerce sites need to be so much more than mere shopping vehicles. They need to speak for themselves and generate positive marketing in order to increase sales and garner more traffic than rival sites. A bland, badly designed website is likely to frustrate a potential customer and send them elsewhere; but what exactly does it take to get an online shop right?
First and foremost, keeping things simple is key. Many online stores will fall at the first hurdle by trying to cram too much information into their site; sometimes, less really is more. Online stores work better when they keep pages free from clutter, enabling a customer to focus on the product rather than reams of unimportant chatter. It is also useful to choose a small palette of bold, bright colors to represent the business, rather than a myriad of hues. Again, this keeps things very simple, whilst remaining attractive and, most importantly, eye-catching. Feature pages, with large and bold visuals, they are an excellent way of grabbing attention, allowing online sellers to tempt a prospective customer into exploring the full website.
When it comes to e-commerce, the product is king. There is little point to an all-singing-all-dancing website if the product itself is then obscured. Customers like to see products in use; including graphics of items in action will allow them to visualize themselves using that kitchen implement or new gadget, turning a quick glance into a sale. Something as simple as an evident shopping cart symbol can also turn a customer’s mind to purchasing an item. A powerful online store knows how to sell its products without overwhelming a customer, providing quick and easy login, search and navigation functions.
Aside from an online store’s general look and feel, it is important for web designers to keep up-to-date with current trends, and to keep on top of what works, and what doesn’t. A customer wants to know that all information, including products, prices and graphics are up-to-date, creating a more secure shopping experience. The key is communication; if an online store can build a rapport with its customers and engage their interest, they will be more likely to enjoy their shopping experience and return.
Online and in-store
The design of an e-commerce site is even more vital when it is representing an existing high street brand or retail store. It is essential for these websites to correctly represent the company’s image and ethos. A consumer may well have grown to trust a particular brand, and it is important to be able to transfer this relationship online; websites should use logos and recognizable graphics and colors, and styles should be similarly matched. For example, a retro store’s online shop should carry a vintage, retro feel, while kookier boutique stores may opt for funky, modern graphics and text. Get the look and feel of an online store right, and customers will be as happy to shop online as they